Finance Committee finalizes budget proposal


MADISON, Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC), which has spent the last few months rewriting the governor’s budget proposal, finished work on the state’s two-year spending plan Thursday night. Some of the final votes have been cast. It is dedicated to cutting higher education budgets and passing income tax cuts.

With a projected surplus of $6.9 billion, both sides wanted some form of tax cuts. The question was always who to give and how much. In his budget speech in February, Gov. Tony Evers expressed support for targeting the middle class, but Republican leaders back and forth over moving to a flat tax.

What you need to know

  • Members of the Joint Finance Committee completed their work Thursday night by voting to approve a cut in the UW system budget and an income tax cut.
  • UW System’s budget cuts reach $32 million, leaving the system $500 million short of the requested amount.
  • A $4.4 billion tax cut was also approved, of which $3.5 billion was for income taxes.
  • Lawmakers will vote on the full budget next week

Republicans on Thursday afternoon unveiled plans for a total of $4.4 billion in tax cuts, including a $3.5 billion income tax cut and a $795 million property tax cut. As part of the plan, Wisconsin’s current four income tiers will also be reduced to three.

“This is the surplus that the state’s hardworking taxpayers paid for,” State Rep. Terry Katzuma (R. Austberg) said Thursday of the plan. ‘Family is hurting’ [these] We are in an era of inflation and this is how we give them tax relief. ”

Republicans said the average reduction in total income would be $573 per taxpayer starting in 2023. But Democrats were critical of the wealthiest income earners given the biggest cuts.

“Taxpayers in Wisconsin making $75 million or more a year (11 of them) will receive a $1.8 million annual tax cut under this plan,” Rep. Tip Maguire (D-Kenosha) said Thursday. told reporters ahead of a committee meeting. .

JFC co-chair State Senator Howard Markline (Republican, Spring Green) attended a news conference on Thursday to announce the Republican tax cut plan. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Haig)

Meanwhile, the UW system’s budget faced a cut of $32 million, the same amount Republicans say they spent on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

“Rather than forcing students to see the world through the lens of race, gender, and economic class just to earn these degrees, the UW system encourages students to do things as diverse as critical thinking and problem-solving. We should teach them,” the state legislator said. Green Lake Republican Alex Dalman explained.

If the bill passes without change, the UW System would be $500 million short of its demands. Some campus leaders said there could be fewer programs and higher tuition fees, but Democrats expressed concern that the impact could be more widespread.

State Senator LaTonia Johnson (D-Milwaukee) said, “This is an attempt by Republicans to take action if nothing is wrong.” “This is a way to cover up the fact that a problem exists.”

Evers has previously threatened to veto the budget if there are significant cuts to the UW system, a move denied by Republican leaders. Congress Speaker Robin Vos previously told reporters he couldn’t imagine the governor vetoing the entire spending plan over one issue.

However, the door isn’t necessarily closed for UW System to get more funding. Lawmakers said the program could recoup $32 million in cuts from the budget if it can prove the money is spent on training people. Funding to build a new engineering building on the Madison, Wisconsin campus, still under debate, has also been cut from the capital budget, despite being a top priority for the University of Wisconsin system. .

Governor Tony Evers will deliver his biennial budget address in February. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Haig)

If the governor were to veto the budget, the July 1 deadline for the new spending plan would not be met. However, the government will not be shut down and all current levels of funding will be maintained until a new spending plan is passed. Given the circumstances, House Speaker Voss said lawmakers are unlikely to resume work on the next plan until October.

The budget is currently awaiting parliamentary approval and could be voted on as early as next week. If the bill is approved by members of both Republican-controlled houses, the budget will go to Governor Evers, who has three options. Sign the budget without change, veto the entire package, or exercise a strong item veto to rework the budget and tweak the bill – the most likely scenarios.

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